Objective: To describe the comparative impact of current and preventive treatments on incidence of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and severe vision loss in patients with bilateral soft drusen (BSD).
Design: Stochastic model.
Setting: US population.
Patients: Prevalence cohort of white patients 43 years or older with BSD.
Interventions: Application of prophylaxis of 10% to 50% efficacy to 1 or both eyes of patients with BSD, application of laser photocoagulation to eligible CNV lesions, or both.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of patients with BSD after 10 years with unilateral and bilateral CNV and resultant unilateral and bilateral vision loss to visual acuity of 20/200 or worse.
Results: The natural history of patients with BSD generated by the model shows that 12.40% of these patients develop either unilateral or bilateral CNV within 10 years of their entry into the BSD prevalence cohort. Bilateral disease occurs in 3.86% of patients with BSD within 10 years. The proportion of patients with BSD becoming legally blind from CNV within 10 years is 2.54% if no treatment is performed. Current laser treatment for CNV decreases the proportion with legal blindness within 10 years to 2.24%. The addition of a preventive treatment of 10% efficacy applied bilaterally to the current laser treatment regimen decreases the proportion with legal blindness to 1.86%; a 25% effective preventive treatment decreases it to 1.34%. Comparatively, preventive treatment of 10% and 25% efficacy given to the fellow eye only after the first eye has developed CNV decreases the proportion of legally blind patients at 10 years only to 2.06% and 1.77%, respectively. All outcomes vary with sex and age at entry into the BSD cohort.
Conclusions: Patients with BSD face a 12.40% risk of developing CNV within 10 years. The addition of even a modest (10% effective) bilateral preventive treatment to the current regimen for CNV would more than double the prevention of legal blindness in the BSD population relative to current laser treatment; a preventive treatment of 33% efficacy more than halves the rate of legal blindness caused by CNV. Preventive treatment given to the fellow eye only after the first develops CNV has substantially less impact.